Are Dating Sites the Same Thing as Marriage Brokers?

22 May 2018

“What would you consider an international marriage broker? I met my fiancee through a dating website.”

It seems like nowadays they’re presuming every dating site is a marriage broker, unless you give them the terms of service or proof that they’re not. Especially websites that are specifically trying to connect Americans with foreigners, and especially in cases where only the American has to pay for membership, but the foreigner is free to join.

Most people that do these type of visas meet online. There’s a minority of people who meet because the American was overseas as a student, or a tourist, or working, or something. Overwhelmingly nowadays, people meet online. So meeting online itself is not a problem and as for the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act, IMBRA, yes, the burden is on you to demonstrate it is not a marriage broker. If you’re using our service we’ll guide you through that. So basically, they want to see information that shows that this is not an international marriage broker which typically could be a printed version of the terms of use of that website.

The definition of IMB, under Section 833(e)(4)(A), is any corporation, individual, or legal entity, whether or not existing under the laws of the U.S., who charges fees for providing dating, matrimonial, matchmaking or social referrals or is “otherwise faciliating communication between individuals.”

There are, under Section 833(e)(4)(B), TWO IMPORTANT EXCEPTIONS, : 1) “The Non-Profit”: a traditional matchmaking organization of a cultural or religious nature which offers its services on a non-profit basis under law, tyically a state-registered corporation, and 2) “The Non-Primary Business with Comparable Rates”: a domestic dating service or other primary service whose principal business is NOT international dating and which charges comparable rates for comparable services to all individuals, men and women, domestic and foreign.

Most dating sites would fall under the last category as NOT a marriage broker. That is if it “…whose principal business is NOT international dating and which charges comparable rates for comparable services to all individuals, men and women, domestic and foreign.” This would include sites like Facebook, which a lot of people meet at nowadays. Facebook charges comparable rates (i.e. free) to all individuals.

It’s possible your dating site is considered an IMB, and in that case, you would simply need to provide a different set of documentation with your petition. In fact, there is nothing wrong with using a marriage broker. If you use a marriage broker you just have to provide some additional information. But it’s not illegal. It’s perfectly okay to use a marriage broker. There are still a lot of them in Russia, Ukraine, and the old Soviet bloc countries. They are completely allowed but there is some extra documentation you’ll need if you did use a marriage broker.

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